Turnpike lawsuit claims overcharges

Wednesday, May 14th 2003, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

None of us like paying to drive on the Oklahoma turnpike system, but what if you were being over-charged? That's what's behind a class-action lawsuit.

News on 6 anchor Lori Fullbright says thousands of Oklahomans try to make the turnpike experience a little cheaper and a little easier by getting a PikePass. Recent bills noted that some folks were overcharged and a refund was issued. That made some people wonder how long it's been going on and how much money they might've paid that they didn't owe. Larry Frey, "If it shows up on my bill that they overcharged and it didn't show up before, it makes you wonder what's happened in year's past. Who knows?"

Frey wasn't the only person wondering about overcharges. So, they've gotten together to file a class action lawsuit against the Turnpike Authority for overcharges during the past five years. The lawsuit says when you get off at an exit, you're not supposed to be charged for the whole trip, but, when the reader doesn't read, you're charged for the whole way.

Attorneys say those few dollars each time; add up to millions over months and years. Chuck Richardson, Attorney: "The turnpike authority made millions last year, just not their money.” Richardson says initially, it looks like the overcharges could be 12-15%.

While we were on the Creek Turnpike near the Elm exit, the PikePass reader missed about one out of three vehicles. If a judge classifies this lawsuit as a class action, hundreds, even thousands of people could be involved.

The Oklahoma Turnpike Authority says it can't comment on pending lawsuits. It does say that PikePass might not be read properly if they have not been moved on the windshield to below the rearview mirror. It also says the windshields on some SUV's interfere with PikePass readers.